Tautologies That Tell Tales; The Pain of Writing

I rarely post comments on other people’s blogs, but an entry on “hidden tautologies” intrigued me: A Philosopher Teases Out Hidden Tautologies – Chronicle.com

It’s nice to know I’m not alone. Rachel Toor writes in Chronicle Careers: 10/30/2007: Love to Write? Keep It to Yourself:

    Each time I’m in the throes of writing a book, I realize that I have somehow forgotten how exhausting it is, how much it hurts. After writing for a couple of hours, I have to go lie down, wrist thrown across an aching forehead. It helps only a little to remember that I am not alone, to think of George Orwell’s comment that “writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness.”

Book publishing and financial advice that cuts to daily life

Food for thought in BookExpo America – Column – New York Times as I prepare to publish my first book and contemplate future books:

    Chris Anderson, the editor of Wired magazine who made his own splash last year with his book “The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business is Selling Less of More,” returned to the convention to talk about the possibility of giving away online his next book — which he fittingly intends to title “Free” — to readers who were willing to read it with advertisements interspersed throughout its pages. (He still intends to sell the book traditionally to readers who’d rather get their text without the ads.)

Though the financial advice in More Advice Graduates Don’t Want to Hear – New York Times is aimed at graduates, the article is useful for people like me, who is currently living off savings as I pursue the life of a self-employed author and consultant:

    I also suggested cutting out the latte habit, which was my symbol for those little things in life that when turned into a habit, add up to money that could have been spent on something worthwhile and memorable. Other people, my wife among them, pointed out that I may have been too draconian on that point. Consistent savings is a lot easier if there are small rewards along the way; otherwise, life seems as if it is just one bowl of cold grass porridge after another.

I rather enjoy my writing times sitting in cafes. I think of that time as paying rent for a home away from home.

Morality, the Wikipedia, and Academics

Scientist Finds the Beginnings of Morality in Primate Behavior – New York Times:

    Biologists argue that these and other social
    behaviors are the precursors of human morality. They further believe
    that if morality grew out of behavioral rules shaped by evolution, it
    is for biologists, not philosophers or theologians, to say what these
    rules are.

    Moral philosophers do not take very seriously the biologists’ bid to
    annex their subject, but they find much of interest in what the
    biologists say and have started an academic conversation with them.

Wikipedia is good for academia
— nice to see an essay about how the Wikipedia is good for the
university and academic culture. I should say more about what I mean
here….

Notelets for 2007.03.15

I’m happy that TimesSelect University
program opens up TimesSelect to university folk like me. (It would be
even better if my friends and family outside the university could also
read the special features of The New York Times for free.

Enchanting TED – Pogue’s Posts points to the latest round of TEDTalks (audio, video).

Guidelines for Using a Cellphone Abroad – New York Times is useful if I ever go to Europe or Asia — but mostly, when I leave the USA, I’m in Canada.

The Bach Birthday Bash sounds tempting. Stanford is just a bit too far away these days for me:

    Join us for a celebration of the master’s 322nd
    birthday with a musical party, featuring Bach family videos, a wig
    tossing contest, and an intimate performance of several of his
    wonderful Brandenburg Concerti. Featuring the award-winning Palo Alto
    Chamber Orchestra and their music director, Benjamin Simon, this
    evening will be an opportunity to brush up on your Bach trivia, have a
    fugue explained to you, and learn the names of all of Bach’s
    twenty-plus offspring. Those attending in period costume are eligible
    for valuable door prizes!

Notelets for 2007.02.17

I want to do a closer reading of Philip Jenkins’ Believing in the Global South
because it helps me to see how much of my cultural heritage/baggage is
entwined with my particular experience of Christianity in the west.

The functionality I showed in class a week or two ago, namely the
blogging integration in Flickr, got mixed reviews. I think it’s so cool
to be able directly to weblogs right within Flickr. Some people agree,
others thought that things are still too messy, that few non-techie end
users would use this functionality. I would certainly agree that
configuring weblogs is still a bit too difficult to do within Flickr.
(I think the flock is a pretty good job of figuring out how to
configure a weblog given its URL.) It is true that plumbing is really
exposed right now. And that in the future, we need to move towards more
hidden and interconnected plumbing.

It’s good to know that you can get average temperatures for places such as Sitka, AK when you think about traveling to such places.

Berkeley Asian Americans; Orhan Pamuk as a writing son

Little Asia on the Hill is a fascinating NYT article about the huge number of Asian-American students on the Berkeley campus.

This morning, I read Orhan Pamuk’s Nobel Lecture: My Father’s Suitcase, an essay that stirred up deep emotional wells in me as a writer and a son. A choice quote:

    The writer’s secret is not inspiration—for it
    is never clear where that comes from—but stubbornness, endurance. The
    lovely Turkish expression “to dig a well with a needle” seems to me to
    have been invented with writers in mind. In the old stories, I love the
    patience of Ferhat, who digs through mountains for his love—and I
    understand it, too. When I wrote, in my novel “My Name Is Red,” about
    the old Persian miniaturists who drew the same horse with the same
    passion for years and years, memorizing each stroke, until they could
    re-create that beautiful horse even with their eyes closed, I knew that
    I was talking about the writing profession, and about my own life. If a
    writer is to tell his own story—to tell it slowly, and as if it were a
    story about other people—if he is to feel the power of the story rise
    up inside him, if he is to sit down at a table and give himself over to
    this art, this craft, he must first be given some hope. The angel of
    inspiration (who pays regular visits to some and rarely calls on
    others) favors the hopeful and the confident, and it is when a writer
    feels most lonely, when he feels most doubtful about his efforts, his
    dreams, and the value of his writing, when he thinks that his story is
    only his story—it is at such moments that the angel chooses to reveal
    to him the images and dreams that will draw out the world he wishes to
    build. If I think back on the books to which I have devoted my life, I
    am most surprised by those moments when I felt as if the sentences and
    pages that made me ecstatically happy came not from my own imagination
    but from another power, which had found them and generously presented
    them to me.

Notelets for 2006.12.02

The East Is West: The Best Chinese Restaurants in Southern California – New York Times:

    THERE are probably more Chinese in Los Angeles
    than in any metropolitan area outside of China. (The same very likely
    could be said of Mexicans, Iranians, Koreans, Japanese and more, which
    is what makes Los Angeles the best international eating city in the
    world.) Fifty years ago, most Chinese immigrants were concentrated in a
    typical downtown Chinatown, which still exists, but more as a relic
    than a vibrant community.

100 Notable Books of the Year – The New York Times Book Review – New York Times.

Berkeley poet Lerner writes from heartland:

    It can be challenging to convince students that
    reading and writing are inextricable, that writing is just a very
    intense form of reading, as Wallace Stevens said.

Rebecca Loudon: Wallace Stevens once said that the act of writing poetry was actually a very intense form of reading.

What’s the actual Wallace Stevens quote?

Notelets for 2006.10.23

I’m quite pleased that Dave Gustafson has released SourceForge.net: EccoTools
as an open source Python library for manipulating Ecco Pro. He was kind
enough to let me use earlier versions of his code a while back. His
officially releasing his code into the public makes it easier for me to
share whatever little utilities I’ve written.

Laura is right: It’s time for me to write a chapter from my Book. The
one that occurs to me is the one on maps. Then the chapter on blogging.

Notelets for 2006.10.17

Google Maps on Treo is cool. I can’t say I’ve seen such a beautifully interactive mobile app before.

Is there any way to get better meetings to happen where we work? I should study 10 Steps To Better Meetings
to see how to improve meetings that I run. It seems harder to find
hints on how to be an effective meeting participant for meetings that
one doesn’t facilitate. OK, maybe I’ve found something. Participating in Meetings is a pretty good list, one that reminds me that I can be a better behaved participant myself.

I figured out how to get my Macbook Pro from dimming: Intel-based Macs: Built-in display dims before sleep

Notelets for 2006.08.08

I am definitely curious to know what Yahoo Research wants to get into, not only because Yahoo! Research Berkeley is only a couple blocks away from my office but because I know a number of bright folks working there.

Group shines light on conservation measures – Catholic Online:

    Interfaith Power & Light, active in 21 states
    and the District of Columbia, works at educating churches and their
    members about how to make a dent in global warming. It’s part of the
    organization’s way of caring for God’s creation, and the work is done
    on many fronts.

The year following Katrina has been a slow-motion catastrophe:

    Indeed, Katrina’s aftermath has not proved that
    congressional Republicans are devoid of empathy, but rather that they
    reserve it for states run by former party chairmen. As of late spring,
    Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour had wheedled his old friends in
    Washington into giving his constituents roughly the same sized block
    grant as received by Louisiana–even though Louisiana suffered more
    than three times the number of seriously damaged homes and lost one
    more major city than its easterly neighbor. The Democrats, meanwhile,
    have been disappointingly silent, preferring to focus on GOP
    incompetence abroad rather than at home.

I enjoyed the film Yi Yi a lot and look forward to seeing the new Criterion Collection edition of the film: Getting the DVD Transfer Right the Second Time Around – New York Times. Will Netflix carry the new edition?